Ivan Arguelles

Innovative Mexican-American poet Iván Argüelles, was born 10 minutes after his identical twin Joe (José) in 1939. He was raised in Mexico City, Los Angeles and finally Rochester MN, where he went to school and graduated in 1956. His higher education includes a BA in Classics from University of Chicago, 1961, and an MLS from Vanderbilt University, 1968. He has been employed as a bookstore manager in Chicago, and an English teacher in Macerata Italy. He worked as a professional librarian at New York Public Libraryand the Library University of California Berkeley. He retired in 2001 and has lived in Berkeley since 1978. His frequent travels in earlier years include Spain, Morocco, India (Ladakh), France and England. Something of a polyglot he reads and understands literature in many languages, which include Latin, Greek and Sanskrit, among the classical tongues, and virtually all the Romance languages (Catalan and Romanian included!), as well as Modern Greek, Hindi and Bengali.

A much published poet, his work began to appear in the many small press poetry outlets in the early 70’s. First books were published in 1978, Instamatic Reconditioning and The Invention of Spain. Since then he has published about 50 titles. His book, Looking for Mary Lou, won the 1989 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. A selection of earlier poems, The Death of Stalin, won a Before Columbus Award in 2009. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 from the same Foundation. Since 1991 his work has taken on more epic proportions, often full book length poems, such as: “That” Goddess, Madonna Septet, Comedy , Divine , The,  Fiat Lux, and Orphic Cantos. Long associated with the surrealists, his early work was influenced strongly by the poetry of García Lorca and César Vallejo. He was also attracted to the poetry of Americans Philip Lamantia and Frank O’Hara.
It is safe to say, however, that Argüelles has developed his own inimitable style, the ingredients of which include a broad ranging classicism, and a tendency toward the mystical, deriving largely from South Asian literature. Being an identical twin, and the loss of that twin in 2011, have heavily informed his frequent elegiac lyricism. His most recent work is the 2 volume Unfinished Breath.At age 85 his creative output seems unstoppable.